Uber begins mapping in Metro Vancouver

An Uber mapping vehicle in Stanley Park | Handout

Uber will begin urban mapping across Metro Vancouver, it announced today (August 10), in preparation for when the B.C. government gives the green light for ride-hailing services to begin operating in the province.

Starting today and continuing for the next month, the company is dispatching up to 25 Uber mapping cars across the region. This will enable the company to come up with its own enhanced maps that can more accurately predict accurate ETAs, match the closest available drivers to riders and determine the fastest routes, it said in a press release.

“The street imagery captured by our mapping cars helps us improve core elements of the Uber experience, like ideal pick-up and drop-off points and the best routes for riders and drivers and delivery,” Uber Western Canada general manager Ramit Kar said.

“As we prepare to bring ridesharing to British Columbia, we are making this investment now to ensure that we can best serve the people that will rely on Uber to earn and get around their communities.”

Uber said having its own maps of the area is better than using existing maps because its own maps will take into account such details as traffic patterns and building entrance locations.

Customizing maps to the company’s specific needs is important, according to Manik Gupta, product head for maps at Uber.

“Over the past decade, mapping innovation has changed our daily life,” Gupta said.

“That progress will only accelerate in the coming years especially with technologies like self-driving cars.”

The previous Liberal government announced in March it was preparing to legalize ride-sharing services by the end of 2017, but it remains to be seen when and if further steps will be taken this year under the new GreeNDP coalition.